Thursday, June 5, 2014

Self-Watering Container Gardening

Gardening in a container - is it a good idea?  Here's what I think about it.

Originally posted 7-10-09

Certified organic worm castings and Vermplex for container gardening
Pure Black Castings            VermaPlex             VermaMax

Organic fertilizer for self-watering container garden

"I know you have treats in your pocket. You 
always have  treats in your pockets." 


A New Way to Garden

Since our soil around here is so sandy (I should know, I dig in it regularly), and the bugs, they are a-plenty, we've decided to try our hand at "self-watering container gardening". The book we picked up is "Incredible Vegetables From Self-Watering Containers."

Even with a mulch cover, our earth garden requires daily watering and the sand tends to leached away the nutrients.  The drainage is great for when we have heavy rains. (Once, we got 5 inches in about a minute and the pasture looked like a lake.  In 30 minutes, the water was all gone.  Now that's drainage!)  But it's a real problem for gardening and a real pain doing all that watering.   It does make burying bones easier, though.

We considered traditional container gardening for the bug problem, but it requires daily watering, too.  With a "self-watering" system, this daily grind can be reduced to a couple of times a week. We can add a small amount of VermaPlex ® to the reservoir so the plant's getting a booster shot of microbes on a steady basis.  It sounds like the way to go.

In case you're not familiar, self-watering containers have no drain holes and have a reservoir to hold water with a wicking system for getting the water into the potting soil. The idea is the plant never dries out and you're not wasting fertilizer by carrying away nutrients out the bottom. All that's required is checking the reservoir and keeping it filled. 

Finding Containers for Self-Watering Gardening

Store bought self-watering containers are very expensive, if you can find them.   Solution:  We'll make our own.  It will take two pots for each container, one to hold the potting soil nested into the one holding the water.  All the regular pots out there have holes in the bottom and you need the water to stay put in the bottom pot, not drain out. So we can't use regular flower pots.

We've found plans online (I'm trying to find that link) for modifying plastic totes from Wal-Mart or empty 5 gallon paint cans into self-watering garden pots. They won't be very pretty, but all those delicious veggies growing out of them will be pretty enough for us.

I guess the container gardening idea is taking off, because we're having trouble finding the empty 5 gallon cans.  The only ones we were able to find were day-glow-orange from Lowe's.  White would have been nice.  Even the plastic totes from Wal-Mart were an o.k. blue, but the color doesn't fit in with our decorating scheme.  And it clashes with my red fur.

Next...Building Our...

Self-Watering Containers. I love a new project, it gets Bill off the couch.

Container Garden Organic Fertilizer Resources:

Certified organic worm castings and liquid fertilizer

Pure Black Castings™:  Certified Organic Worm Castings created using only organic materials.

VermaMax®:  Chicken Litter organically composted using VermaPlex®.

VermaPlex®:  Created from Certified Organic Pure Black Castings™.  Innoculate your garden soil and your compost heap.

Organic Fertilizer Information: Find use/application guides at Monroe Works

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